President Barack Obama built his 2008 presidential campaign on "transparency" and "openness."
Thus, the notion that the Justice Department was considering a proposal that would have allowed federal law enforcement agencies to tell people seeking information under the Freedom of Information Act that the government has no records on a subject, when it actually does, was a bit curious.
But now, following intense controversy, it seems the federal government is changing course. In a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, the senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, the department said it is taking a fresh look to see if other options are available to avoid revealing sensitive law enforcement information.
Last week, the Blaze's Liz Klimas wrote, "FOIA requests can be made by citizens and reporters to disclose information controlled by the government." She went on to explain what the new, revised section governing this policy would read:
When a component applies an exclusion to exclude record from the requirements of the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 552(C), the component utilizing the exclusion will respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.
Numerous groups weighed in during the public comment phase, saying that the measure would “dramatically undermine government integrity." It seems officials may have actually heeded the groups' advice.
The department says the proposed measure will not be included when the department issues final regulations. The department also says it wants to preserve the integrity of law enforcement records while preserving a commitment to being as open as possible about the FOIA process.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.